Northern Bobwhite Visits the Farm

July 18, 2013

I’ve been trying for years to capture a nice image of a bobwhite quail here in eastern Missouri. You’d think I would have been successful long ago because Shaw Nature Reserve, one of my favorite nature areas, is a treasure trove of quail. Unfortunately, they always escape my lens, jumping up at my feet or scurrying off into the tall grass. My luck changed a few weeks ago right here on the farm on the morning that Joyce and I returned from vacation.

Apparently, while we were at the Grand Canyon, a male bobwhite took up residence in our newly-established prairie, which is currently speckled with black-eyed Susans. I heard the quail calling the morning after our return, and spotted it foraging along the edge of the prairie in the short vegetation of the fire line I keep mowed. Out of habit, I gave a few lame, quail whistles and was shocked when the chubby bird took flight and passed right over my head and landed on a dead branch in the maple tree in our front yard. As it sat on the branch and called for over an hour, I captured some sweet images, including the featured image of this post as the quail was stretching its legs. The frame is not only sharp, but shows a little behavior as well. The second image features “Bob” a few days later in his favorite clover patch next to our barn.


I don’t know how long Bob will stick around. He calls constantly morning and evening, looking for a mate I suppose, or at least some buddies, but he seems too happy here to move on down the road. He takes a dust bath in Virginia’s flower bed every day and spends a lot of time in the prairie and in our front yard. He also hangs out in the chicken yard with Sweetie, our only remaining Rhode Island Red. They never get too close but they don’t seem to annoy each other either.

I’ll let you know if there are any new developments this fall. For now, Joyce and I will continue to enjoy Bob’s singing and his antics around the farm. I’ve already finished an article for “Missouri Conservationist” about our little visitor so he has earned his keep for sure.

Thanks for looking,


Technical Information:

Leg Stretch:  Canon 1D Mark IV; Canon 500/4 L IS Lens with Canon 1.4 TC III Extender; 1/200 @ f/5.6; ISO 400; RAW Capture; Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod with Wimberley II; Converted and Processed in Canon DPP

Bobwhite in Clover:  Canon 1D Mark IV; Canon 500/4 L IS Lens; 1/320 @ f/5.6; ISO 400; RAW Capture; Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod with Wimberley II; Converted and Processed in Canon DPP

16 comments on “Northern Bobwhite Visits the Farm”

  1. I saw my first Bobwhite very close to the wall of the Zoo…it was in cold weather, too. Never have been able to get any kind of a shot! Thank you for this great post.

  2. Beautiful shots and excellent narrative. Hope it sticks around!

  3. stunning photo, great lighting, exquisite detail!

  4. This past winter Mel and I moved to a new house. During one of the snowstorms a bobwhite showed up in our driveway, acting like he belonged there. We were snowed in and all we had in the way of birdseed was quinoa, so we ended up calling it Quinoa the Quail. He hung out under our truck and was part of our life for about a week, when it disappeared (related to the barred owl that had been perching on the fence across the road? Or the feral cats that have now moved in and had kittens in our barn?)

    We later found out a friend a few miles away had lost one of his quail, which he used in training his falcon. Hmmm.

    Poor Quinoa!

    I love this picture of the quail dancing a jig…nice.

  5. Congrats on your new visitor to the farm. Can’t wait to read your article in the Missouri Conservationist! Thanks for including two images of this handsome Colinus virginianus. As a young child, I used to sit on the front porch, looking at my bird sticker book, and try to whistle the Bob WHITE call. Thanks for sharing, Danny! I would love to see one in the wild sometime.

    • My work is done when it evokes childhood memories. You’ll have to come out here and visit Bob.

  6. What a beautiful little Bobwhite. I always enjoy seeing them in the wild, one I am out communing with nature, which is rare these days. My brother and I use to spend a lot of time in the woods, when we were younger, and we would always come upon a covey. Thanks for sharing.


  7. That’s quite the dance step. I like it.

  8. Fantastic pictures!

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